All American Rejects

The All American Rejects are impossible to classify. Equal parts punk, emo and radio friendly pop the bands core of Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler set about making songs as huge and expansive as their influences Def Leppard, Poison, Inxs and AC/DC. Thankfully they sound like none of the aforementioned bands and their sound is both unique and comfortably familiar with an album which explores relationships and break-ups through the eyes of young and innocent minds. We caught up with AAR's guitarist Mike Kennerty who filled us in on how the band could only come from a town such as Stillwater.

Q: Stillwater, the hometown of the All American Rejects. Apparently it's the most boring place on the planet?
A: It's up there. It's a college town so over the summer there's not much there and over the Winter there's twice as many people, but they're your typical fratboy college kids. Unless you're drinking or having pre-marital sex there's not much to do.

In Stillwater the only places to play are bars and mostly cover bands play there, but you can go to Oklahoma city and there's a little bit more but even then it's kind of limited. It's definitely not thriving at all in terms of a music scene.

Q: When you're out in the States and the UK you must think that the band wouldn't have formed if you'd have been born in a bigger city?
A: The lack of stuff to do means that everybody just concentrated on playing their instruments and not being distracted by other things. It definitely helps.

Q: It was Tyson and Nick who formed the band originally. When did you and Chris hook up with the guys?
A: We met them little over a year ago now and we were playing in separate bands. When they wanted to start touring they asked Chris and I to come and join them on the road. Way before us it was pretty much a different band with the same name and people had better things to do I suppose and it just ended up with Nick and Ty as the core and they wrote the record that is now out.

Since we started playing it's rocked up a little, but with the songwriting it was always don't f**k with what works. They're still at the core writing new stuff.

Q: "Swing Swing" is out in the UK this Monday. Have you been surprised at the reaction you've been getting over here?
A: The shows we've played have all been sold out and even though they've not been that big it's been totally unexpected. Back home we play to about 1300 people a night and it's going pretty well.

Nick listened to Def Leppard and Poison and Ty liked Inxs and AC/DC and those are huge bands that had a lot of radio hits. I think that songwriting style is going to rub off and of course make for radio friendly songs in the writing.

Q: A lot of rock bands tends to avoid keyboards and synths like the plague. The Rejects embraced them more by default than any other reason. With four of you in place I guess the next album will be a lot more rock based and maybe even throw out the synths?
A: Originally when it was just Nick and Ty they would just layer the songs and stuff and lacking a band to jam out stuff they had the opportunity to think out stuff and add keyboards. Especially with the drum loops came out of simply not having a drummer. The keyboards are such an important part of our sound I'm sure they'll still be prevalent.

Q: For you personally as a guitarist who were your major influences?
A: When I was growing up I had an older brother who got me into Kiss and Metallica and I watched a lot of MTV so I always into Twisted Sister and what not. Then in middle school I got way into punk rock and that's when I started playing more. It's kind of funny because I think it's true for the rest of the band that we tend to have a lot more heavier influences than the Rejects sound suggests.

I think that all of us listen to a lot of different stuff and that accumulates in the variety of the sound. I don't think we quite fit in with the pop punk bands that are big right now and the emo thing we don't fit in with too much, so we try to be just straight edge pop rock.

Q: So back to our original question on Stillwater. Are you still going to live there now you're bonafide rock stars?
A: I love it there, it's home. I won't be planning to leave.

"Swing Swing" is out on July 21st. The self titled album is in shops now
All American Rejects return to the UK to play Leeds and Reading
For more info

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